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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Ask a Mexican

18 Feb 2015
Dear Mexican: As you’ve said before, Mexicans lack education. Why? Why don’t they care that a high school education is not enough in this 21st century? I see exceptions to the rule, but the rule seems to be “No More School After High School.” I don’t get it. Educated Gabacho Dear Gabacho: Misquote alert! I’ve never said that Mexicans “lack education.” I might’ve discussed dismal high school graduation rates in the past, and wished for more Mexicans in college—but that’s far different from how you’re painting my past thoughts. While we’re on the subject of rhetoric, a quick critical thinking lesson: When saying something is a “rule” in making a quantitative argument, you should at least shoot for a supermajority figure to bolster your claim. As it turns out, a 2013 Pew Research Center study showed that 69 percent of Latino high school graduates from the class of 2012 (a…
11 Feb 2015
Dear Mexican: Can you please explain why some Chicanos and mexicanos get offended when you speak to them in Spanish? As a fellow Chicano, I find it hard to believe that raza gets offended by this genuine approach. Have you noticed this behavior yourself—that little dirty look that comes when you say “Hola”? Is this pattern more deeply rooted in the times when speaking Spanish was shameful act in the U.S.? If the Reconquista was to ever be fulfilled, how would Spanish-speaking Chicanos and non-Spanish-speaking Chicanos get along? Habla Henry Dear Henry Is Speaking: As if Mexicans don’t have it hard enough—narcos back home, Know Nothings in the States, and a Mexican soccer team that probably won’t win the FIFA World Cup in our lifetime—now comes this conundrum. I get the underlying anger of Chicanos and Mexicans who don’t want to speak Spanish—they’re upset you don’t think they’re smart enough…
04 Feb 2015
Dear Mexican: Do Mexicans sling racial slurs at each other or casually refer to each other as “wabs,” similar to the way blacks call each other “nigger?” What’s your take on the whole “nigger” thing, anyway? Kingfish the Cabrón Dear Blackfaced Wab: What do I think of “nigger”? Um, it’s bad? I think you mean que pienso of “nigga,” which some etymologists and the Washington Post argue means something completely different: It’s an appropriated term when gabachos and Mexicans use it among each other, and a term of endearment when African Americans use it to describe ellos mismos. There’s no real comparison in Mexican Spanish, except maybe paisa and its regional synonyms (wab in Orange County, cheddar in Denver, brazer in Chicago and so many more—consult a May 2010 edition of this columna for a comprehensive list of slurs that Mexicans in el Norte use against each other). The big…
28 Jan 2015
Dear Mexican: My wife and I chose to adopt children instead of having our own. We were living in Costa Mesa at the time, so we put down white or Latino as a preference, but were open to any ethnicity. We ended up adopting six—all Latino. It wasn’t until after we brought home a 7-year-old boy (now 15) that we were told that he was a Mexican citizen, abandoned here in the U.S. for years. When we started the adoption process, the Mexican government fought hard to get him back. I did a little research and discovered that Mexico does not seem to want Americans to adopt Mexican children. I can totally understand why a country would want to keep its children, but in that same year, Mexico allowed only 73 American adoptions, while tiny Guatemala allowed thousands. It pains us when we go with our church to help out…
21 Jan 2015
Dear Mexican: I have a hard time believing that the immigrants we see at Home Depot are the best Mexico has to offer. Why can’t we entice more cream-of-the-crop of Mexicans to come up north? (Mexico has the richest man in the world, so someone has to be doing something right.) Are the laws fucked up, or are these people better off staying? It couldn’t hurt the other immigrants if we had more well-educated immigrants messing up our stereotypes. We Can’t Do Better? Dear Gabacho: Keep laughing at those Home Depot wabs, because they’re going to have the last risa. All immigrant groups feature a few highly educated folks in their teeming masses, Mexicans included: Entire swaths of Texas are now the playgrounds for the middle and upper classes of northern Mexico, mostly because they’re fleeing the narco wars. And thousands of Mexicans get TN-1 visas (the NAFTA version of…
14 Jan 2015
Dear Mexican: Many Mexicans die in the Sonoran Desert in the Tucson border sector as they try to get to el otro lado. This is because your buddies at la migra in the L.A. sector have pushed them over this way. Instead of sneaking in with small groups, why don’t Mexicans just mass at the border at a chosen spot in an urban location, and come on in! Can’t catch them all. Migra will just send them back if they get caught; then they can try again without risking no water, a three-day hike through hell, and lunch with the coyotes and vultures—with Mexicans as the main course. If they change the entry spot every crossing, and organize it right, the Reonquista could happen by next month! Then again, Mexicans organizing anything without comida, cerveza, tequila and música would be impossible. Migra would smell the tacos, hear the música and…
07 Jan 2015
Dear Mexican: I’m in college, and I’m taking a class called Latina Pop Culture. I thought it would be educational and informative about the rich Latino/a culture, and I was eager to learn. But the moment I entered the class, it was evident that I, as a white girl, would have to be on the defensive. All we’ve discussed is how my “Anglo” culture has oppressed Latina women and stereotyped them as curvy and tempestuous, and how media whitewashes them. There are many Latina girls in the class, and they all say something different; the white girls seem terrified and continue to be apologetic for no good reason. These Latina girls hate that they’re stereotyped as sexy, and they and the professor keep telling us “Anglos” everything we’re doing wrong in portraying Latinas in the media. OK. I see what’s wrong. So what’s right? What is the real Latina? I…
31 Dec 2014
Dear Mexican: How did the patron saint of Mexico get a name derived from Arabic? El Moro Judio Dear Jewish Moor: You’re referring to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the brown-skinned apparition of the Virgin Mary, who tradition says appeared before the Aztec peasant Juan Diego in December 1531 just outside of modern-day Mexico City. As you correctly noted, Guadalupe’s etymological roots spring from Arabic: The name is a mishmash of the Arabic word for valley (wadi) and the Latin lupus (wolf) and was what the Moors called a river in the Extremadura region of Spain. Hernán Cortés and his merry band of murderous Extremadurans venerated a Black Madonna found near their hometown river, so it’s no stretch to theorize that any Holy Mother appearing before a bunch of Mexicans on the conquistador’s watch would assume the nombre of Guadalupe. But another school of thought favored by many Mexican and Chicano…
24 Dec 2014
Dear Mexican: The other day, my Italian boyfriend and I were sitting in a cafe in Santa Monica. He asked me an interesting question: “If you had the choice to be any nationality in the world, which one would you choose?” Being the proud Latina I am, I said, “Mexican.” Then he said, “Why? What have Mexicans done that is so great?” The only comeback I could think of was Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Please help me come up with more reasons why I should be proud to be a Mexican. Smitten With Salami Dear Wabette: Since it’s the holidays, and the Mexican is in a giving spirit gracias to all the tamales de rajas con queso in his panza and the bacanora in his bloodstream, I will be kind contigo. While you say you’re proud of being Latina, you also say you have little clue why you should…
17 Dec 2014
Gentle cabrones: Behold, it’s my annual Mexican Christmas guide, where I recommend the best Mexi-themed libros for you to give to your loved ones this Navidad instead of yet another tamale to unwrap. Lowriting: Shots, Rides and Stories From the Chicano Soul: A stunning collection of lowrider photos by Los Angeles-based librarian/photographer Art Meza, combined with essays and poems about Chicano car culture. (Yours truly has a piece about my 1974 Cadillac Eldorado convertible—pinche thing has more power than a B-17 Flying Fortress.) Publisher Santino Rivera also has another awesome anthology—¡Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature, published in response to the attack on ethnic studies in Arizona and beyond. Order them at brokenswordpublications.com, and Rivera just might throw in a sticker that pays homage to the Sex Pistols and reads: “Never Mind the Hispanics Here Come the Xicanos!” HELL YA! A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of…